MIDLANDS AND SOUTH
Ian Campbell came to the assembly in Bicester for a week of children’s meetings and school visits during January 2005. About forty-five children gathered each night for a week and around fifteen schools invited Ian to take their assemblies. One secondary school in Bicester opened up several classes for Ian to do a full gospel presentation. The question times revealed this was the first time most of these had ever heard the gospel.
The saints in Bicester had an Easter seed sowers effort in the town of Towcester. There is no assembly there, and no other evangelical witness of any kind, so the 3,500 houses got their first gospel witness for a long time.
In March, the assembly at Church Street, Coventry hosted a weekend of meetings on the creation – evolution issue. Farid Abou Rahme and others gave presentations with the purpose of reaching souls with the message of the gospel.
Prayer would be appreciated for a gospel tent effort in Newbury during May with Paul McCauley from Belfast. As usual this will be held on the Butler’s farm in Hatt Common.
Over the last year the assembly at Marine Hall, Eastbourne, has endeavoured to reach all parts of the community. The population of Eastbourne roughly consists, at present, of one-third retired folk, one-third middleaged and one-third young people. Contrary to media assumptions the proportion of young people is increasing. In addition to the usual outreach activities (for example open-air meetings, leaflet distribution, coffee mornings, children’s work, correspondence courses and family teas) the assembly recently hosted the Ayrshire Bible Exhibition. There was a good response from the schools and with the help of the brethren from Scotland nearly six hundred children were reached plus many teachers and their assistants. This has resulted in further opportunities at the respective schools. University students have also been reached and some have been saved. This leaves the assembly in Eastbourne at present with a healthy group of young people anxious to go on for the Lord. Many of the saints in the assembly have suffered trials and setbacks, but in their weakness they have proved that God is still at work in the 21st century!
Dan Gillies preached for the short gospel series at Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire as owing to family illness Philip Kaye was unable to come. Dan visited homes near to the hall and saw some interest as a result of this activity. Some two thousand invitations were given out by a tract band from local assemblies and, as a result, a number of people from the town attended the meetings. The greatest interest was from the invitations extended to senior citizens and the assembly is seeking to continue this work as they are able. The excellent support from local assemblies was a great encouragement to the small assembly and a particular answer to prayer.
The assembly at Winshill, Burton on Trent, hosted the Ayrshire Bible Exhibition during the first two weeks of November 2004. The exhibition was in the Gospel Hall for the first week. One thousand invitations were delivered to the homes in the village. The assembly had also advertised the exhibition in the local paper, and arranged for it to be mentioned on the local radio stations. The result was that during that first week, one hundred outsiders visited the exhibition. Following the exhibition one local man has been coming to all the meetings. He has purchased a Bible and has asked for a correspondence course, which the believers have gladly provided. Another couple who hadn’t been to the gospel meeting for many years also returned as a result of the period of outreach.
The exhibition was taken into two local primary schools during the second week. As a result the gospel was presented to three hundred and thirty children and teachers. The teachers and head teachers were very enthusiastic about the exhibition and were keen to know when the believers would bring the exhibition back again.
The assembly at Spencer Bridge Road, Northampton hosted the Ayrshire Bible Exhibition in March for the fourth time in eight years. There was a full programme of school visits. Twenty schools attended bringing one thousand one hundred children plus teachers and helpers. The local radio station recorded an interview with an exhibition representative which was broadcast on the first Sunday morning of the event. As in previous years the response from the children was enthusiastic.
ENGLAND – NORTH WEST – FOCUS ON WYTHENSHAWE, MANCHESTER
(Wesley Downs has compiled this report to inform the believers about a new work that has been going inWythenshawe, Manchester)
Wythenshawe, Manchester, was one of Europe’s largest council estates and is one of the most socially-deprived areas of England, according to government statistics. Crime, social deprivation, health, unemployment are all major problems in the area. The assembly in Wythenshawe has sought to reach out with the gospel over many years and continues to seek to have an impact in the local community. We thank the Lord for saving young people in Wythenshawe who come from very difficult backgrounds. The issues of drugs, prison/criminal records, poor educational background, long term unemployment, lack of discipline and life skills, low self-esteem and self confidence are very real in this area. One major problem we find is that of unoccupied time. This leads to temptation, resulting in sin and backsliding. In addition to the above we come into contact with an increasing number of people who struggle with addiction to drugs/drink and are powerless to break free. In their lifestyle everything works against them and they need help and support to break free from the vicious downward spiral that they are in. Some have professed salvation but remain in need of support to help them break free from their circumstances.
The ultimate solution is of course the Lord and it is to Him that we want to direct these young believers on a regular basis. To give some of the new believers some work skills and personal discipline we started a computer course two years ago. This has run intermittently and we have been encouraged by the response and the help it has been to the young believers involved. We have seen that when they are occupied legitimately and spiritually they enjoy more victory over sin and temptation. Correct occupation of time is crucial to breaking addiction. We believe regular attendance at a place where spiritual help can be given and practical skills taught will be a great help to those seeking to break free from addiction.
Building on the experience gained from the computer course we felt that the Lord wanted us to do more for those we are in contact with by expanding our current commitment of one day a week to three or four days a week. They would be involved in reconditioning and repairing donated computers and furniture which we would either sell or pass on to those in need (often those with addiction problems own very little furniture/household items as these things have been a very low priority in the lives). Any funds raised from this would be put towards the running costs. Those involved would go through a set programme of training in life and work skills with a spiritual emphasis, as well as on the job training. Christian input would be built into the programme such as daily prayer and Bible study/teaching as well as developing a Christian environment of care and respect for one another. On completing a fixed term those involved would have gained nationally recognized qualifications, work experience, life skills as well as grounding in spiritual issues affecting everyday life and gospel outreach. The assembly in Wythenshawe run a drop in centre during the week and in our Friday night outreach we come across other young unemployed men who show an interest in the gospel. Our aim is to include the people we reach through these other outreaches in this work to give them a strong grounding in the gospel message and expose them to a Christian environment with a view to their salvation.
Seeking the Lord in this matter
We understand the vital importance of doing the Lord’s will for His glory and to this end we have waited on the Lord in respect of this project for two years. As a result of the way in which doors have opened as we have prayed that we would know the will of God, we believe that the Lord is in this work. In addition to this the burden to do this work has grown as we have prayed and waited on the Lord. In February 2005 we took a step of faith and signed a two-year lease on an industrial unit in a mill which is suitable as a place to do this work. We are currently decorating and preparing it for operation.
In view of the nature of this venture we have set up a charity to administer the work. The elders of the assembly are all happy with this proposed work and those that are able are trustees. In addition to the elders another coworker and a Christian accountant who has experience with charitable trusts are trustees. We feel that it is important that this work has links to the assembly.
We would very much value your prayers in this project as we seek to do the Lord’s will for His glory. On a practical note we would be glad to hear from anyone who has access to redundant computers/laptops and IT equipment as this will be a great help to us starting up.
School Work and Bible Exhibitions in and around Wythenshawe
In a day when so few children attend Sunday schools and children’s meetings it is a great joy to learn of the access that David Raggett from Wythenshawe has to thirty schools where he has complete liberty to present the truth of God’s word. He speaks to between nine and ten thousand different children each term and many of these children hear God’s word seven or eight times in a term.
David is invited to take school assemblies and religious education lessons. He takes up to four assemblies a day and it is extremely encouraging to hear of the interest and attention of the children and staff. David’s aim is to present the Lord Jesus in His deity, perfection and power as the Saviour who changes lives. His lessons stress that the Bible is God’s word and that it is relevant as God’s message for us today. In the religious education lessons, the children read from the bible, listen to illustrated bible stories and take part in a quiz. The lessons are extremely profit-able and many biblical truths are explained.
David also takes his Bible Exhibition into schools. The exhibition has sixteen wellillustrated sections and several activities linked to it. This has proved to be a very powerful tool in presenting the gospel. The children receive a copy of John’s Gospel and are encouraged to read it. So far this year David has taken the exhibition into sixteen schools.
In the run up to Easter, David has lunchtime clubs in up to five schools. Children make a choice to come to these sessions. The purpose of the clubs is to make children consider the real message of the Bible. They read from the scriptures, memorize a verse and learn about the Saviour’s death and resurrection.
The assembly in Caerphilly started a work for parents and toddlers nearly three years ago. After a very slow beginning it built up steadily and now most weeks there is an average of seventeen children and twelve mothers. In late January 2005 the mothers were invited to an evening in the home of one of the helpers and four attended. At the end of the evening there was an epilogue and some of the mothers showed an interest in the message. The assembly are now thinking of a follow up effort to build on what was done. The assembly conducted a series of twelve teaching sessions, every other Friday night, throughout the autumn and winter. A variety of subjects were covered. The sessions were followed by a period for questions and answers. Some nights this part of the meeting has gone on for longer than the teaching. The assembly has been really encouraged by the interest in these meetings. Following one meeting a young teenager got saved.
A girls’ club takes place in the early evening once a fortnight on a Friday. This is for girls aged eleven plus. Time is spent doing cookery or a craft. After this the girls work on an Emmaus course on John’s Gospel. The numbers coming to this outreach are small but the assembly considers the work to be worthwhile.
The weekly Good News Club runs on Sundays at twelve noon. This work continues throughout school term time. Numbers fluctuate between ten and eighteen. Most of the children come from difficult backgrounds and this brings its challenges as their behaviour can be disruptive and their language very coarse. The assembly tried out an idea to have the teenagers on their own on Sunday evenings but this was abandoned at the first attempt due to bad behaviour. One of the lads, ‘G’, has shown a definite concern about salvation but he is easily affected by his peers.
The believers in Llandaff North were thrilled recently when as a result of the personal witness of one sister, a family contacted her saying that they wanted to be saved. The sister decided to take them to the home of one of the elders who it turned out was not at home. Thankfully his wife was. After a time of talking the husband, wife and daughter were led to the Lord.
On 6th March 2005 the assembly held a Mothers’ Day Service. Parents and grandparents were invited to attend to see their children and grandchildren take part. More than thirty came along and heard the gospel preached. Many were there as a result of contacts made through a work in schools which has recently commenced in the Cardiff area by Roger Brind.
About three years ago some brethren in Renfrewshire felt exercised to tract villages where there is no assembly. Since then a group of brothers and sisters have met in Linwood Gospel Hall on Saturday mornings with the aim of tracting various districts. Nine villages and small towns have been covered so far. Stalls have also been set up at some local fairs. People receiving tracts are encouraged to make contract through a website address, which is on each tract.
During February, Ian Jackson held a two-week gospel series in the Culloden assembly, near Inverness. Neighbours, colleagues and family members were brought along by the believers. Some unbelievers came through receiving invitations; many of these people had never heard the gospel preached before. Several spoke of having been impressed by the messages.
At the Cullen assembly, monthly gospel meetings in the neighbouring town of Portknockie have been well attended, following up the ‘Focus on Fishing’ meetings and the autumn gospel campaign. A weeklong series on Basic Truths for Christian Living was conducted by Jack Hay at the end of February, aimed at younger folks and believers who have been attending the meetings in Portknockie. Four believers have been baptized.
The Peterhead assembly was greatly encouraged by the response to the Bible Exhibition, set up in York Street Gospel Hall during the last week in February 2005. Over 1,000 people visited, 740 of them children from schools in the area, accompanied by around 90 teachers and classroom assistants. The remainder were adults, mainly Christians, who came in during the evening sessions.
Extension into Europe
There are currently two assemblies in the land of Armenia. In 1992 brother Levon Yergatian and brother Toros Pilibosian from the Limassol Gospel Hall, Cyprus, went to Armenia with the desire to bring the gospel to a land that had been under communism for seventy years. They had gospel meetings in homes and started a Sunday school work. Brother Levon and brother Toros would come once or twice a year to encourage the few saints that met faithfully. In 1999 brother Toros, his wife and two children were commended from the Limassol Gospel Hall to full-time work in Guimri, Armenia. Guimri is the second largest city in Armenia with a population of one hundred and ten thousand. In 1988 this city was devastated by an earthquake. By then the believers were gathering in a rented classroom in an area built by the Austrians for the handicapped and orphans of the earthquake. In 1999, as well as the breaking of bread, regular gospel meetings started every Lord’s Day and a few men were saved. New Testament truths were taught and the Holy Spirit raised able men to take the responsibility of the assembly. The Lord added to the assembly and the classroom was not big enough for the meetings. After much prayer the Lord provided an unfinished building in the same area and with the help of saints in the United Kingdom this building was purchased and the first floor renovated to become a Gospel Hall. The saints meet every Lord’s Day morning to remember the Lord. There is a large Sunday School and Bible Class of about one hundred and forty. Every Lord’s Day evening the gospel is preached and on Wednesday there is a Bible study and prayer meeting. The Austrian quarter Gospel Hall is involved in different outreach ministries. They translate and print gospel tracts and once a year distribute gospel calendars and good seed calendars which has a gospel message on it for every day. Also a gospel meeting is held once a week in another part of town. This has been going on for the past year and a half and nine have been saved during this time.
In the capital city, Yerevan. brother Herach and his family began a meeting in their home in 1999. This meeting grew but unfortunately came under the influence of different denominations and humanitarian ministries. By mid 2003, after much conflict, brother Herach, his family and a few saints separated themselves from this system and showed a desire to meet simply as the first church did. Since then a brother from Cyprus and another from Cork, in Ireland, have been to visit the Ardzakh Gospel Hall in Yerevan to encourage and minister to the saints there. Brother Toros now makes regular visits and helps with the teaching in Yerevan. There is sweet fellowship between the saints of the two Gospel Halls. The saints in Ardzakh Gospel Hall break bread every Lord’s day and following it they have a gospel meeting. The Sunday School follows the gospel meeting. On Thursdays they meet for Bible study and prayer. It is encouraging too that this small group of believers are active in outreach and prison ministry.
Please pray for planned outreach
An Iranian was baptized in the assembly at Parsons Street, Bristol, in April. He was saved as a result of receiving a gospel tract while visiting Newport, South Wales. Pray for his wife and children still in Iran.
The annual meetings at Northfield, Newcastle, Northern Ireland. will be held in the big tent from 10-24 July. Gospel with Peter Brandon (Bedford) and ministry with Roy Hill (Bristol). Please pray for the Lord’s blessing.
Gospel meetings are planned for the month of June in Heaton Park, Manchester. The speakers expected are Roly Pickering and David Raggett. These meetings are being held by the Lancashire Gospel Tent in conjunction with the assembly in Prestwich.
Approximately fifteen years ago, the assembly at West Hill Gospel Hall, Plymouth prayerfully took the decision to move from its elderly and somewhat dilapidated premises to somewhere nearer to the main hub of its contacts – a housing estate called Efford. The assembly had occupied the existing building for about forty years and had ‘ferried’ many young people to and from Efford in cars and minibus to its youth events, Sunday school and clubs. In 2003, West Hill Gospel Hall was sold by auction and land was purchased in Efford with negotiations commencing with Rok Builders at the same time. In the late autumn of 2004, the builders moved on to the site and the assembly expect to occupy their new premises in May/June of this year.
Plans are in course to have various opening meetings in early June. A civic event will be held with local councillors, the design team, the local headmaster and other prominent people from the community. Secondly the assembly are planning a community day for local people. The third event will be a Christian thanksgiving where the assembly are looking forward to meeting many of the believers who prayed and supported them over the long journey to the new building. Please join the believers in praying that the Lord, who helped them build a hall of dead stones, will build a ‘church of living stones’.
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